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Thread: camera options for simple studio?

  1. #1
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    camera options for simple studio?

    Hi All,

    I'm back after about 6 months and some experience under my belt. I hope my question is simpler here than in some of the research I've done.

    I've got a basic little studio setup with lights, mics and Logitech C920 mounted in a DIY teleprompter. I use vMix for recording. Everything goes into an i5 computer with plenty of RAM, memory and a cheap GPU card.

    The webcam works pretty well but I'd like to add another camera. What I can't seem to find for love or money is a camcorder that has a USB out like the Logitech. There are gizmos that can be added like frame grabbers from the video out or firewire but I haven't seen something that works like a basic webcam. The audio is done through a little mixer into a different USB port so the camera doesn't have to have audio capability. My assistant and I basically edit as we go so we'll shoot a take, see how it looks on the computer screen and keep it or do another.

    There might be times when I won't be in the same room as the computer so the ability to record video and audio to an internal card is the attraction for a different kind of camera.

    If I wanted a camcorder (or some other kind of camera) that can work like a webcam, what am I looking for?

    Thanks, as always, sh
    Last edited by luthierwnc; 03-07-2015 at 04:29 PM. Reason: spelling error

  2. #2
    Senior Member Linuxcooldude's Avatar
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    Now a days you won't find a camcorder with USB streaming out ( Some older ones do ) as it mostly uses it for file transfer/power. You would probably want some kind of video camera with HDMI output to a capture card. Which is one of the best ways as it outputs uncompressed / high quality video feed at an affordable price.
    <a href=http://www.justin.tv/linuxcooldude target=_blank>http://www.justin.tv/linuxcooldude</a>

  3. #3
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    I seem to have stumbled onto that myself from looking around. I was going to get a cheap used camcorder but it seems the HDMI capture card will cost about the same. I'm using a Dell which are notorious for incompatible motherboards using PCI-Express cards. That will take some extra research. In poking through those there seem to be a lot of two and three (out of 5) star ratings on converters generally -- or else the reviews are bar-belled where they either work great or not at all.

    If there are any capture units that buck that trend, I'd love to hear about them. Thanks, sh

  4. #4
    Administrator andrewzarian's Avatar
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    Growing pains...

    I would suggest adding a second webcam to your setup. Webcams actually are able to handle low light setups (indoor) better than most low/mid range camcorders.

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    Thanks Andrew,

    It is amazing how much you need to know before you realize how little you know!

    My assistant has a Rebel T2i so we are going to give that a try before making purchases. Light isn't an issue. The office has a bank of east-facing windows and I've got two softboxes. Right now the one camera is either mounted in the teleprompter or on a tripod and it doesn't move. Later we might look at something more mobile. If the DSLR does the job, I might go that way. I can only go so wrong with a little camcorder too. Depth of field wouldn't be there but I only learned a couple days ago that I should even care

    I've looked at adding a second webcam but found a couple things that might be a concern. One is that I'm not sure if audio and two cameras wouldn't overload the USB controllers. I never figured out how to tell which port goes to which controller. The other concern is that the Logitech webcam software only seems to work for one camera at a time -- that's from lurking rather than doing it myself. We are using vMix Basic HD to record the podcasts so I don't know how I would get both feeds on that screen.

    I've gotten far enough on my journey to discover that most low-end recorded video operations don't get to see things on one screen while shooting so that's probably not an issue. Live webcasters usually do so maybe that is where I got the mental image. I can probably hack a small car backup monitor to work on the AV out just to see what that camera sees at the desk.

    I'll find what I can about USB capacity. If you have any ideas on how to control two (or more) webcams, that would be a big help. I'd imagine security camera rigs must use a lot of similar devices but the capture card must be fairly sophisticated. Judging by the perps in the ones I've seen, the resolution isn't great.

    Cheers and keep those ideas coming! sh

  6. #6
    Senior Member Linuxcooldude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewzarian View Post
    Growing pains...

    I would suggest adding a second webcam to your setup. Webcams actually are able to handle low light setups (indoor) better than most low/mid range camcorders.
    Depends on what platform your using. Since I broadcast on a Mac, webcams are often subpar compared to on Windows. Mostly due to drivers that are only available to PC's. These drivers often control various aspects of the webcam. Webcams worked ok for me for a while. Then they started to white out and other anomalies. So I finally went to HDMI camcorders that gave me the stability I was looking for.

    Quote Originally Posted by luthierwnc View Post
    Thanks Andrew,

    It is amazing how much you need to know before you realize how little you know!

    My assistant has a Rebel T2i so we are going to give that a try before making purchases. Light isn't an issue. The office has a bank of east-facing windows and I've got two softboxes. Right now the one camera is either mounted in the teleprompter or on a tripod and it doesn't move. Later we might look at something more mobile. If the DSLR does the job, I might go that way. I can only go so wrong with a little camcorder too. Depth of field wouldn't be there but I only learned a couple days ago that I should even care

    I've looked at adding a second webcam but found a couple things that might be a concern. One is that I'm not sure if audio and two cameras wouldn't overload the USB controllers. I never figured out how to tell which port goes to which controller. The other concern is that the Logitech webcam software only seems to work for one camera at a time -- that's from lurking rather than doing it myself. We are using vMix Basic HD to record the podcasts so I don't know how I would get both feeds on that screen.

    I've gotten far enough on my journey to discover that most low-end recorded video operations don't get to see things on one screen while shooting so that's probably not an issue. Live webcasters usually do so maybe that is where I got the mental image. I can probably hack a small car backup monitor to work on the AV out just to see what that camera sees at the desk.

    I'll find what I can about USB capacity. If you have any ideas on how to control two (or more) webcams, that would be a big help. I'd imagine security camera rigs must use a lot of similar devices but the capture card must be fairly sophisticated. Judging by the perps in the ones I've seen, the resolution isn't great.

    Cheers and keep those ideas coming! sh
    Yes, I forgot about limited bandwidth on USB2.0. Especially when running two HD Webcams & Audio. While a DSLR would work, its not the perfect solution either. More then likely you wont be able to get rid of the HUD like focus box unless you use Magic Lantern software. I don't see depth of field very useful for a webshow and seem out of place. You would definitely get better low light performance Andrew was talking about. But lighting is usually a necessity in a studio anyway.
    Last edited by Linuxcooldude; 03-11-2015 at 09:06 AM.
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    Thanks again Linuxcooldude,

    I think my biggest problem is worrying about not getting things I don't need.

    We're talking about a simple video-only recording device in proper light mounted about 7 feet from my face. It won't have to zoom in or out once it is set-up. It is a testimony to my ignorance that I spent so much time looking for something other than a webcam to work like a webcam and plug directly into a PC -- a $70 webcam can but a $300-$2,500 camera needs a $200-$800 card to reach the harddrive. I'm still working on that one.

    In any event, bolt it down, point it, turn it on and download the SD card in no big hurry.

    It seems quite a few camcorders will work. I'm leaning towards the Vixia HF R500. They are cheap, under warranty and I don't need wifi or internal memory. SD cards are cheap and I can swap them out if someone is editing and someone else needs more coverage.

    If there are some specific camcorders that are particularly good for this application, that would help. Cheers, sh

    PS Windows 7, i5 processor, 8GB RAM, SSD, HHD, GPU for three screens
    Last edited by luthierwnc; 03-11-2015 at 09:58 AM. Reason: additional info

  8. #8
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    Bought a Vixia HF R500 last night. Got a package that included the camera, a bag, 32GB SD card, a suspect tripod and assorted cleaning supplies for about the cost of the camera. It was the SD card in the group that mattered.

    This camcorder does have a 3.5 mm audio jack but from the start I was using XLR mics (except for a 3.5mm Lav). I came to this as an erstwhile musician so I had enough gear to make that path an easy choice. I still had more trouble with the audio than video -- I just wanted more video.

    Thanks to all for your input. The learning experience isn't over but I might have crested the knee of the curve. Cheers, sh

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